It was with a degree of trepidation and excitement that I went to vote about 30 minutes after the polls opened in New Jersey this morning.
The nerves were over the state's use, this year, of touch screen ballots. I've heard and even reported about problems with these type of machines in early voting in other states. There were even allegations of "vote flipping" where the voter touches for one candidate and the X appears by the name of another.
Listening to New Jersey 101.5, the state-wide talk station, on the short drive to the polls didn't do much to ease my mind, as several callers reported problems where they voted.
It's a short ballot this year in New Jersey, so voting shouldn't take terribly long. But the folks in line ahead of me were in the booth an awfully long time. Probably because they were a bit confused by the new procedure. The short delay gave me time to reflect.
In this day of bitterness and analysis over claims and counterclaims and negative campaigning and campaign fatigue, I thought my feelings would be of relief that it's finally over. But they weren't. I thought, instead, about what a great country the United States is. And how fortunate I am, by simple virtue of nation of birth, that I, unlike so many of my fellow human beings around the world, have the right to cast a vote for president of my nation.
Then I thought for a moment of all my fellow Americans who died in pursuit of this freedom we hold so dear.
The apparently confused voters ahead of me finally cleared the booths and I was ushered into one. Perhaps because I was unintimidated by the touch screen process I was in and out of the booth in record time. I found no problems. It was easy and straight forward.
Driving home I flipped the radio back on. Caller after caller reported unusually long lines at the polls. Not because of problems. But because so many people are turning out to vote.
Today, I feel particularly proud to be an American.